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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Cliff makes it to Jeopardy! He does really well but at the final
question he puts all his money and loses, even though his answer does
make some sense. And Sam can't find his little black book while
somebody keeps on calling women from it and arranging dates. Turns out
it is a kid.
The black book part is not very exciting. But it isn't bad either and has some moments to laugh.
The best part is of course Cliff on Jeopardy. A hilarious character in the best possible scenario considering that he is such a know it all. And his question, omg his question! Made me laugh so hard. I love Cliff, wish he would win!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Here's a little-known fact: Cliff Clavin- trivia expert and bar
know-it-all- makes an appearance on the television game show "Jeopardy"
with hilarious results. This is a classic in every sense of the word.
First, the bad news: the middle of Season Eight finds Cheers indulging more and more frequently in Un-Jokes: jokes which are illogical, unrealistic and plain unfunny jokes with a premise so faulty or contrived that they dissolve as they're being told. Sam races out of the bar to look for his missing black book at the Laundromat. Woody asks if Sam can do him a favor while he's there... he pulls a white sock from his pocket. "If you see a sock like this can you bring it back? I'm missing two of 'em." Not to nitpick but why is this funny in the least? Does the character of Woody really believe Sam is going to look for his lost sock? If Woody's missing two of them doesn't that mean he's missing a pair? And are we to believe he walks around with a sample sock in his pocket at all times just in case one of his co-workers leaves the bar for an emergency trip to the laundromat? You see, if the joke is this full of flaws- and only barely funny- it's not worth telling. The rhythm of the show had become so fast that they kept up by throwing in Un-Jokes instead of holding out for something substantially funny.
Woody gives us a bonus Un-Joke today: he switches his watch from his left hand to his right hand so he won't get it wet washing glasses.
NORM: Yeah, but don't you use BOTH hands when you wash glasses?
WOODY: That's okay- it's waterproof.
Can you see why the Un-Jokes drive me crazy? That isn't funny- it's foul and erroneous. It's infuriating! But enough with the complaints let's get to the good stuff. The idea of getting Cliff on "Jeopardy" was sheer brilliance, and the payoff doesn't disappoint. The categories on the game are so perfect (Mothers & Sons, Bar Trivia, Celibacy) and Cliff's Final Jeopardy answer is so absurd, so outlandish, that to this day I laugh just thinking about it. Even his stubborn insistence that he's right even after he loses shows Cliff's wonderful madness: "Be that as it may, Alex, those people have never been in my kitchen." And just when you think the episode couldn't get any funnier, "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek shows up in the bar and gives the most subtle, devastatingly-funny guest performance in the series' run.
CLIFF: What are you saying?
ALEX: I'm going to quit my job as host of Jeopardy...
Dear God! I remember laughing so hard when I first saw this that I almost swallowed my tongue. Who knew Trebek was so hilarious? Sam gets a very bright B-story about his little black book being stolen, and every scene brings a new story beat, a new development and a new genuine laugh. This is one of the few sub-plots with a beginning, middle, and end, and my only complaint was that we never saw Sam's protégé return for another episode and more lessons from the Master.
This is Cheers at its best, and as usual the under-rated and hysterically-funny Cliff is the star of the show. And now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to spend a little time in Tibet...
MARKING the arrival of a film or TV Series as an important little
tidbit of American Pop Culture is the inclusion of one program, such as
JEOPARDY, in the plot of an episode of another show; be it a Sitcom or
SO it is with this particular episode of CHEERS, which puts our good buddy, Cliff (John Ratzenberger) in a situation where he is a contestant on the game show. All points to his having success; what with all categories on the Jeopardy Game Board are obviously subjects with which the Letter Carrier has a high degree of familiarity.
IT has been said that "Pride cometh before the fall"; and it is certainly an apt example of the old deadly sin. Cliff is oh so close to realizing a dream of a lifetime; only to give it up to the higher purpose of giving the audience some laughs. As always, the situations are well thought out and virtually guaranteed to go over. (The use of testing material must be in use to some degree; which is enhanced with the presence of a live, in studio audience for the cast to play up to.) AS in most all sitcom series episodes, a sub-plot is employed; making the half hour move as well as giving every cast member something to do. Everyone gets their chance to shine; which means the happiness is equally divided between the entertainers and entertainees.
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